Monday, June 23, 2014

My college students don't understand commas, far less how to write an essay. Is it time to rethink how we teach?


He (the High School English Teacher) talks about processes and collaboration, about students working together and doing peer review, about how they keep writing folders, and do writing frequently in various, informal ways.
“But the writing they’ll need to do in college won’t be informal,” I say. “And it won’t be reviewed by peers but by professors. So what about specific writing and research skills? What about style and grammar?”
Almost instantly, his tone shifts from one of back-patting, pedagogy-speak to something more honest. He laughs. “It’s very hard to get a lot of teachers to teach those things, especially grammar. We have such a need to engage students. There’s such an emphasis on keeping student enthusiasm going and getting them to want to actively participate. When you start talking about grammar, it’s like asking them to eat their vegetables, and no one wants to ask them to do that. They prefer class discussion, which is great but to a certain degree, goes off into the wind.”

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